PNG police issue arrest warrant for former PM O'Neill

11:20 am on 16 October 2019

Papua New Guinea police have issued a warrant for the arrest of former prime minister Peter O'Neill.

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Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

PNG's acting police commissioner David Manning said the warrant for the Ialibu Pangia MP was related to "official corruption".

Mr Manning said that Mr O'Neill had so far refused to co-operate with a police request for him to go to the Boroko police station in Port Moresby for processing.

In a statement, the police chief said he couldn't reveal specific details about the corruption case at this stage "due to the sensitivity of the investigations".

But he confirmed that police investigators in an ongoing investigation applied to the district court for the arrest warrant for Mr O'Neill which was granted last Friday.

"Now my appeal as the Acting Commissioner of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary to Mr O'Neill is for him to avail himself to investigators and allow due process to be completed," Mr Manning said.

Mr O'Neill has responded in a statement that he was not informed or presented with a warrant today from any member of the police force.

"If this was a serious matter, not a political power play, a formal process would be in place that would have seen legal representation made to my office," Mr O'Neill said.

He characterised the alleged corruption claims as "false and fabricated in a clumsy way by the Police Minister (Bryan Kramer) and relate to renovations to the Yangaum Health Centre in Madang".

Denying any wrongdoing, Mr O'Neill said he would be available at any time to hear this complaint, "but I warn any member of the RPNGC who might be part of the Police Minister's political unit, to think carefully and respect and honour the oath you swore to our Nation".

According to the police commissioner, the investigation was free from political influence.

"He (O'Neill) will be processed by police after which he has the right to bail and defend himself in court.

"Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law so Mr O'Neill's constitutional rights are being respected in that regard," Mr Manning said.

Mr O'Neill was replaced as prime minister by former close ally James Marape in late May when members of his coalition government withdrew their support for him, prompting his resignation.

Festering corruption allegations were a feature of Mr O'Neill's stint of almost eight years in the role of prime minister.

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